Baseball history was going to be made, so one thousand fans piled into Utuado’s Estadio Ramon Cabanas, the modest stadium in the central part of Puerto Rico, to witness it.
They came to see first baseman Diamilette Quiles, and she did not disappoint.
The 33-year-old became the first woman to play in the Superior Double A League in Puerto Rico, the top league in the Puerto Rico Baseball Federation, when she took the field for the Utuado Mountaineers against San Sebastian in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday.
Quiles went 0-for-2 in the first game, fouling out to the catcher in her first at-bat and reaching base on an error by San Sebastian second baseman Gadiel Baez, the brother of Cubs superstar Javier Baez, in her second AB. She grounded out to third base and second base in her two at-bats in the second game.
The teams split the doubleheader and both will advance to the playoffs.
“I’m really happy and really satisfied with what happened,” Quiles said. “I never expected this, and it’s been great experience. I feel very proud to be the first one. I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”
The 42-team Superior Double A League is in its 80th season of existence. The teams play on weekends and their rosters are made up of players with Winter League, Minor League and MLB experience. The teams represent small municipalities and small populations – not the big cities -- and are divided into eight regions – north, south, southwest, southeast, east, central, northeast, northwest.
Former big league outfielder Juan Gonzalez is a manager in the league. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina owns the Guardianes de Dorado.
“She didn’t get a hit, but she did hit the ball well when she had a chance and her plays on defense were the real show,” said Hector Rosa, the director of communications for the Puerto Rico Baseball Federation. “It was special day for women in baseball because it opened the door for others. She made history, and our hope is that other women follow in her footsteps and play with their hometown team. It doesn’t matter if it’s a team for men or women, it’s about the talent that a player has and demonstrating it.”
Quiles is a member of a five-team women's league in the Puerto Rico Baseball Federation, and in 2009, she became the first player in league history to hit a homer over the fence. Additionally, she has been part of two Women’s Baseball World Cups as a member of the Puerto Rico women’s national team.
The baseball celebration could not have come at a better time. The Utuado community was hit hard by Hurricane Maria and parts of the area remain in recovery. Part of the stadium where Quiles made history is still damaged.
“This day was incredible, and this was history,” Rosa said. “The fans were here, and this community needed it. Everyone came together for something we will never forget in Puerto Rico.”